Category Archives: AmStaffs

Does Dog Gender Make a Difference?


By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with female dogs, and have owned both males and females. All my AmStaffs seem to have been picked for me for one reason: there was a dog that needed a home when I wanted a dog. I didn’t consider gender, because I didn’t think it mattered.

I haven’t read anything definitive on whether females or males are better, though I’ve read that many police departments tend to choose intact males for their canine units. Female dogs tend to be smaller in size than their male counterparts, in both weight and height. Males in theory have more stamina and energy, though you can’t prove that at our house. To exercise Skye we spend at least twenty minutes three times a day in the yard playing ball or chasing a disk, or we go for a long walk. She will be panting at the end of our exercise sessions, but doesn’t want to quit.

There are differences between the genders of intact male and female dogs. A non-spayed female dog usually has two “heat” seasons a year. Her behavior during this time will change and she’ll be receptive to males, will wander the neighborhood if allowed out, and be more vocal. If she has young puppies she will be more protective of them and may act aggressively. She may even mark her own territory, to let the neighborhood males know she’s available. A non-neutered male dog will search out a female in season, fight other male dogs, may behave inappropriately toward their owner by “humping” their leg, and will mark their territory to attract a female in season. While this may be the norm, I have known spayed females that mark their territory too. Depending on the age your dog is spayed or neutered at, if they have already developed some of the behaviors described they may never get over them.

To my knowledge there is no scientific study that shows whether a male or female dog is better. Several obedience judges and veterinarians were surveyed about their opinions in the book, The Perfect Puppy, by Lynette and Benjamin Hart. The traits of behavior between males and females were discussed and the consensus was that male dogs were more dog aggressive and more apt to attempt dominance over their owners. Females on the other hand, were thought to be easier to housebreak and train.

I have read a lot of forum threads on the subject lately, and have seen information that shows no marked behavior differences between male and female dogs. One forum I read stated that males were preferred as pets, but that it also depended on the breed of dog. If you are looking at a breed with specific traits like being laid back, gentle and quiet, it won’t matter if you get a male or a female. The same can be said for a breed that is known for being more active; either sex will have the breed’s traits. Theoretically this would hold true for a mixed breed as well; a Lab/terrier mix would have Labrador Retriever and terrier traits. Both dog genders can have temperament and behavior issues.

When trying to decide whether to get a male or a female dog, I think it depends on you and what you want or need. The most important thing is to evaluate your situation. The needs of your family should be considered too. What do you want in your new companion? Do you need a working dog or a companion? Your energy level should be considered as well. While all dogs need some amount of exercise every day, if you are not overly active you won’t want to be going for a five mile walk every day. If you have children, the size of the dog should be considered. Too large a dog can bowl over a child if they are running full tilt with a ball.

At the end of the day, I personally don’t think gender makes a difference. You want a well-behaved dog that won’t be afraid of you and cower in a corner. You’re taking on a responsibility that will last the life of the dog, which could be between 15-20 years. Leave yourself open to the possibilities, and don’t let gender cloud the issue.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Dressing Your Dog on a Budget


By Ruthie Bently

Everyone has been hit by the bad economy and I have come up with a wonderful way to help dress your dog, without having to spend a lot of money. This will work whether you are looking for a t-shirt, sweater or winter coat for your own dog.

My boyfriend was recently laid off and money has been tight lately. However, we have always been thrifty. Most of our household heat comes from a wood stove, we grow our own vegetables and raise chickens for their eggs, go to garage and yard sales during warmer weather, and when making trips into town we try to carpool with other family members. Although our winter wardrobes have been taken care of and the cats have longer hair coats so don’t need any outdoor clothing, my American Staffordshire Terrier, Skye, is different.

Skye is on medication, and one of the side effects is a hair coat that is thinner and shorter than normal. While her hair does get longer when it gets colder, it isn’t what it could be. Skye will forgive me for saying this, but she is a wimp when it comes to cold. At night she will burrow under the blankets so that only her nose is sticking out, and she stays that way all night long. The problem for me is my dear little wimp loves to go for rides with me, no matter what the weather. I don’t take her when it is too cold, but she has to see the vet every six months for tests. Since the vet is an hour away, I have to be able to take her with me during cold weather, and she needs to be warm enough.

I stumbled on the solution to dressing my dog on a budget when I was in a little resale shop this summer. While going through the clothing racks I found a child’s sweatshirt and wondered if it might fit Skye. The sleeves looked a bit long, but the chest was wide and it had a hood, which was a plus because it would keep the wind out of her short ears.

Measuring your dog for clothes should be done while they are standing. For the length, you should measure from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. It helps to also measure the dog’s leg from the shoulder to the wrist (carpal). Use the leg measurement for the sleeve length so your dog won’t be tripping over the sleeves. I also measure the width between Skye’s legs which helps determine the chest size I need, as she is a deep-chested dog.

The main difference between clothes made for us and those made for dogs is that human clothes sometimes fit your dog better if they are put on backwards. For example, a t-shirt with a picture on the front gets worn so the picture is on the dog’s back. Jackets get put on and zipped up the dog’s back. If your dog is a bit touchy about trying on or wearing clothes, use a treat such as the CANIDAE Snap-Bits™ to help get them dressed.

Some resale shops do not take returns especially if the item is on sale. Make sure you take a tape measure and your measurements along with you, as most shops will not let you bring the dog in. Don’t limit yourself to resale shops, however; also check yard sales and your local recycling center if they take clothing. Also, many thrift stores have a “discount day” when their prices are lower.

I went when their prices were 50% off and got Skye several sweatshirts, t-shirts and a jacket for under $5.00. You can use the same measurements for buying costumes or holiday clothing for your dog. Remember that anything you purchase should fit comfortably on your dog. It can be snug but not binding or your dog may have trouble maneuvering and not want to wear it. Make sure that when it is on your dog they have enough room to urinate or defecate or you will be washing frequently.

You can use child sized booties for your dog’s feet if it isn’t wet outside, just purchase two matching sets. I haven’t had too much luck finding good boots, as a child’s boot weighs so much more than a dog’s boot. Skye even has her own brand name jacket that I found at a thrift store for $2.00; it is pink and purple, and has a zip-out polar fleece lining. I put it on her and zip it up the back and unless it is extremely cold here, she goes for a ride.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Deal With Depression in Dogs


By Ruthie Bently

Do dogs get depressed? Yes, just like humans, dogs can suffer from bouts of depression. When my AmStaff Nimber passed, his canine companion Katie went into a depression and began misbehaving. I realized that Katie was grieving and began looking for another AmStaff to add to our family, which solved the problem. While this helped in my situation, it isn’t for everyone.

Several other things can lead to depression in dogs. It can be something as simple as the weather or changes in barometric pressure. Other causes of depression in dogs can be the loss of a close companion, either human or canine. If you begin working longer hours and cannot spend as much time with your dog as you used to, or if you and your dog used to meet a dog regularly for a play date and don’t anymore, that could bring on depression. To counteract this, try socializing with your dog more at the dog park, show more attention and affection, and try to schedule more time for your dog. If this isn’t possible, look for a doggie day care where you can leave them for a play date, or hire a dog walker to give them more daily activity. If you can’t take your dog with you on vacation, find a kennel that gives your dog extra exercise or allows them to play with other dogs so they aren’t in a crate all day.

Moving to a new house can cause depression in dogs, because your dog may be unsure of their place in these new surroundings. Make sure when you move that you take along all their current supplies (bowls, beds, toys and crate). Even if their things don’t go with the new color scheme, keep using them until your dog gets acclimated to the new house and neighborhood, and feels comfortable there. Once they feel comfortable in the new house you can start replacing their old things with new ones.

Separation anxiety and family additions can cause depression too. If you suspect your dog may be depressed, try to ease them into a new situation. If you are pregnant, try to get your dog used to the idea before the baby comes home. If you are getting a new pet, consider introducing your dog to it on neutral territory to lessen the chance of any depression.

If you do all these things and your dog is still acting depressed, it’s a good idea to see your vet to make sure the problem isn’t caused by something physical. Some illnesses can lead to depression in dogs, or they could have a chemical imbalance. They could also have a hormonal imbalance like hyperthyroidism, which might lead to depression.

Some of the symptoms of dog depression are being unresponsive when you call them, excessive sleeping or lethargy, loss of interest in drinking water and a lack of appetite or weight loss. Their behavior may change and become aggressive or anxious. If you suspect your dog has any of these symptoms consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. If these symptoms persist for any length of time they can become life threatening.

If you suspect your dog is depressed, review any changes you’ve been made recently in their environment or routine. Has their feeding, walking or playtime schedule changed? Is it something that can be changed back? Our dogs are so sensitive to their surroundings; they can tell when we are under the weather even before we know it, and may empathize with us.

There are several medicines vets use to treat canine depression, but they’re usually a last resort. Phenobarbital is an anti-seizure medication that’s sometimes used for canine depression. It can cause kidney and liver damage, so any dog on phenobarbital needs regular blood tests. Prozac, while proven to have good results, has side effects. Your dog may be less friendly, less active and their personality may change. Phenobarbital and Prozac are only available by prescription from your vet.

There are holistic remedies, flower essences and several herbs that have been used to treat depression in dogs. While they may have no side effects, each dog’s reaction to these can be different, and many veterinarians are reluctant to use them in the treatment of canine depression. I would suggest you consult your regular veterinarian and ask to be referred to a homeopathic veterinarian if you wish to explore these treatment options. There are even therapists you can take your dog to, and they may use aromatherapy or music to help improve your dog’s mood. As with any other health issue concerning your dog, see your vet before making any changes that involve medicine or alternative therapies.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Make Homemade Dog Toys


By Ruthie Bently

I get perturbed when I buy Skye a dog toy that I think should last for a while and doesn’t. Having owned four AmStaffs, I think I am a pretty good judge of what will and won’t last around Skye. For example, though she dearly loves soft toys, they won’t last more than about five minutes with her because she tears them apart. She has done the same thing with tennis ball toys, so I don’t buy them for her either. I have gotten pretty handy with a sewing machine and I am a pretty fair braider. With those talents I have been able to make quite a few homemade dog toys.

One Christmas when I was younger, my grandmother made stuffed animals. I got a pony, and she also made a lion, giraffe and a penguin. I have sewed stuffed dog toys for Skye by buying some patterns and some scraps of sturdy fabric (denim, corduroy and broadcloth). I leave off any embellishments like button eyes or yarn whiskers that may be added to the toy. This leaves fewer things for Skye to grab on to and keeps her from eating yarn or swallowing buttons. Good sources for patterns are family, friends and your local thrift store.

Actually, you don’t even need to buy a pattern to make homemade dog toys. I made Skye a fabric cube that was 6” x 6” x6” and very easy to do. Make a square paper pattern that measures 6” long and 6” wide. Use your pattern to cut out six pieces of your chosen fabric. Sew the squares together in the shape of a cube, leaving one seam open so you can stuff the toy. For stuffing use fabric scraps or stuffing that you can get at your local craft store. Stuff the cube until the sides are firm, but not bulging, and sew your last seam shut. You can make the pattern larger or smaller depending on the size of your own dog. If you can’t use a sewing machine, you can use a craft needle and hand stitch your seams.

I have also made dog tugs out of old cotton jeans. I use clean jeans and rip out all the seams, which leaves me with four pieces of fabric. Depending on how thick I want the tug to be, I use either one or two pieces of fabric. I begin tying knots up the pant leg and depending on the length of the leg can get three or four knots tied in the length. You can use cotton towels to make tugs too, but I have found that they tend to get shredded faster than the denim tugs. The benefit of the cotton towels is that Skye has her own built-in dental floss. Cotton fibers are safer for dogs, but never leave your dog alone with these toys; they should only play with them under supervision.

Does your dog love to chase things? One of Skye’s favorite toys is a cotton sock with a ball in it. Get an old racquetball or tennis ball, put it down the sock and knot the neck of the sock. If the sock has a hole in the toe, knot that end too and your dog has a retrieving toy to chase after. I fashioned another homemade dog toy using a braid as the base which has several variations. I took three long strips of fabric (both denim and fleece works), put a knot in one end and braided them down halfway where I tied another knot. I finished braiding to the other end and added a third knot. You can use it as a tug or if you stitch the end fringes together you have a retrievable ring toy with three knots. I have also taken three braids and tied one knot attaching all three together. The one I am working on now incorporates six braids, each eighteen inches long, and should make for an interesting homemade dog toy.

I recycle and reuse as many things as I can, and making dog toys for Skye is rewarding on many levels. I see my own glee on that long ago Christmas morning reflected in Skye’s eyes every time I present her with a new homemade dog toy.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What is Bloat? What are the Symptoms?


By Ruthie Bently

Quite a few of my articles are anecdotal, and this one is as well. I had never owned a dog that got bloat until a few months ago, when my AmStaff Skye had her own bout of it. Bloat is known by several names: torsion, Gastric dilation-volvulus (or GDV) and simply bloat. Deep-chested dogs are more susceptible to bloat, but any dog could theoretically get it.

Some of the factors that have been shown to contribute to bloat are: eating only one meal per day, exercising immediately after a meal, eating their food too fast, drinking lots of water right after a meal, gulping their food too quickly or eating from elevated bowls. Bloat can even be brought on by a stressful event for your dog, or if they have a temperament that is fearful. Even a dog’s age can be a factor.

What happens is that a dog’s stomach becomes distended with fluid and/or gas, and the stomach turns out of its normal position. The blood circulation to the stomach becomes impaired by the distention, and return of blood to the heart can be compromised by a compression of the larger vessels. If returning blood to the heart is compromised in this manner, further damage to several of the dog’s organs can occur, which can become a life threatening issue very quickly.

When Skye had her issue with bloat, I noticed that her abdomen began to swell like a balloon. She was trying to cough up something (like a cat with a hairball) and had no success. She also kept gulping water, as if that would help the situation. The color of her gums, tongue and ears became very pale. She was lethargic and started drooling, which she never does. She also became restless, began pacing and could not find a comfortable place. In short, I could tell she was miserable. Some of the other symptoms an owner may observe are rapid heartbeat, depression, weakness, difficulty or rapid breathing, and the dog may collapse.

What Skye had done was get into the cat litter box and help herself to some “kitty hors d’oeuvres.” I use a wheat-based cat litter and after she ate it, it began to ferment in her stomach. Of course, it happened on a Saturday night and we don’t have an emergency clinic in our town, though the vet would have met me at his office if I had asked him to. As soon as I noticed she was having a problem, I called the vet. He told me that they call it a “garbage gut,” and it can happen when a dog gets into something they are not used to eating, as it may react with the acid in their stomach.

I was very lucky because her stomach never torsioned, but I was scared to death for her. What the vet suggested was to go to the local discount store and get a gas reliever. He told me to give her one dose, and another dose in two hour increments if needed. I was so worried; I packed Skye into my truck and took her with me. After getting the anti-gas medicine, I gave her one as soon as I got out to the truck. What followed were several hours of “green fog” in our house, but I am happy to say it solved the problem, and I got a taller gate that Skye couldn’t climb over to get to the litter boxes.

Some of the breeds that can be susceptible to bloat are Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd, Wolfhound, Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, English Sheepdog, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Mastiff, Akita, Sight hounds, and Irish Setter. You can find a more complete list of susceptible dog breeds online.

I would never suggest that you just go get a gas reliever (because I am not a veterinarian), and your situation could be more serious than mine. I would, however, suggest that if this situation happens to you, call your vet as soon as possible or get your dog to an emergency clinic. Time is of the essence if you suspect your dog has bloat. You can also help by keeping any foods for other pets, any garbage containers and litter boxes out of reach of your own dog. By being vigilant on your own, your dog may never have to suffer like my poor girl did.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Do Dogs Roll in Disgusting Things?


By Ruthie Bently

I’ve lived with American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981 and have been lucky enough to own four of them. While they were all basically the same because they were AmStaffs, they were all different in their personal habits. AmStaffs are a wonderful breed and my first dog Nimber was a great dog that literally cleaved to my left hip, but for all his nice traits (and he had many) he had one habit that I was never able to break. He liked to roll in nasty things.

Before I had put up fencing for a dog yard where Nimber could exercise safely, there was one weekend that the person supervising his recreation period wasn’t leashing him for his walks. As a result he got loose and went wandering on his own. Nimber ended up getting three baths in a day and a half because he kept rolling in green deer poop. I am totally convinced that he went back to the same spot after each bath just to get smelly again. After I put up the dog run fencing, he was confined safely; but every time he got loose he found the smelliest pile of stuff to roll in.

There are many schools of thought as to why our dogs roll in things we think are nasty. Whether it is a pile of fresh cow or horse manure in a pasture, a pile of deer poop in the woods or maybe a dead animal carcass that they run across on a daily walk, some dogs will roll in it. I have happy news, though – not all dogs roll in smelly stuff.

Some people believe that our dogs roll in nasty things to cover a rival dog’s scent, which seems foolish to me. I have owned enough dogs, both male and female, that will mark a spot with either feces or urine after another dog has left a deposit of their own, but they never rolled in it. If anything they got perturbed by the miscreant marking territory that they felt was theirs.

I read something else that I tend to agree with after living with my own dogs, which suggested that the behavior goes back to that original pack. A dog finding something to roll in was doing it to take a message back to the pack. Bees go back to a hive and do a dance, ants lay a pheromone trail back to their nest for other ants to follow back to the food source they have found. What better way for a dog to take a message back, than to roll in the filthy mess? Their whole body is covered in a new smell!

Dogs are very scent oriented in nature; they always smell each other when they meet (if their owners allow them). If a wolf were to roll in fresh deer poop, they could lead the pack back to the area, and the pack could track the deer, which in turn could lead to a new source of food.

Yet another theory that goes back to the original pack, mentions that our dogs may be trying to camouflage their own scent from others. Think about it – they roll in very smelly stuff and come home not smelling like our dog any more. What better way to protect themselves from anything that may want to harm them, or prey they may not want to smell their scent and become spooked?

The last theory is that our dogs get turned on by many odors. Maybe they just like to smell different than they already smell. We humans use perfume, and according to the findings of one laboratory experiment performed, the dogs tested rolled in a large scope of things, including rotting garbage, dung, tobacco, lemon rind and perfume. This would seem to shoot down either the theory about covering the scent of a rival or camouflaging their own scent from another animal.

So the next time your beloved dog rolls in something disgusting, try not to get angry. And if it makes you feel better, think of it as aromatherapy for your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.